Fashion is described differently; for some, it refers to popular clothes and decorations whilst for others, it is a form of expressing oneself through material things in accordance with time and place, but on September 25, 2021 the Tanzania Fashion Festival 2021 brought a whole different meaning to fashion in the country.
Embedded with different kinds of fashion pieces, this year’s festival oozed extraordinariness starting from the venue that showcased different clothing and bodily decorations, including handbags, hats and other accessories to boot.
As I made an entry into the Terrace venue located in the heart of Slipway, the ambiance exuded ‘fashion’ from the way the surroundings of the open hallway were organised.
In the actual space where the event would later unfold were wooded chairs with soft red cushions for the regular attendees and white for the VIPs and VVIPs. In the middle of the venue was a white-coloured makeshift runway intricately designed on a swimming pool surrounded by flowered decorations as well as a display screen that repeatedly showed different products of the event sponsors.
Slated to kick-off at noon, the event had a gradual buildup and by 6pm it was lights, camera, fashion! Media personality and fashion entreprenuer Bhoke Egina, the festival host welcomed the founder of the Tanzania Fashion Festival, Deogratius Kithama, on stage to usher in this year’s event to an eager audience.
One after another the designers’ names were called out to reveal the different kinds of creative pieces they had in store.
Even though there wasn’t plenty of diversity in the physical sizes of the models, I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the awe-striking designs that reflected the contemporary fashion industry.
The models truly embraced the runway and made their own. They walked with such majesty that was not only visually appealing, but the mix of dances during their strides made this fashion affair an exciting experience.
“As we marked our fourth edition of the Tanzania Fashion Festival, this year’s event was different, from the elegant settings and the designs showcased. From the runway on top of the pool, the change in colours of the whole setting, with ‘happy colours’ orange and white chosen, it was an event to remember . To cap this exceptional night is the multitudes of people who attended the event - the number has more than tripled from our last event,” Deogratius said.
He explained that during the 2021 event, there were multiple faces that brought about the freshness infused in the pieces that were showcased at the event including the designs of Khadija Mwanamboka, Noor and Marsha.
The theme for this year’s festival was summer - a celebration of the summer season which is well represented by the use of bold and bright colours.
It was due to past challenges and lessons in the last three editions of the festival that Deogratius and his team ensured that this year’s event had to meet all attendees’ expectations.
“We had a clue that this year was going to be different and that the audience number would double, due to that, preparations were made earlier so as to ensure we leave the audience with a good memory and image of fashion. This includes the spiced-up settings of the event,” Deogratius explains.
According to him, there were approximately 700 attendees , 30 designers who took turns to showcase their creative designs. All the designers were selected among applicants by a committee formed by fashion stakeholders.
“When we started this festival four years ago, never did we anticipate that we would come this far. We have a long way ahead of us as there is so much we have to offer to the fashion market in the country as well as to the world. I have lately learned that to make something impactful in your society, you have to remain authentic to what you have to offer and to your brand, that is what this festival is doing. It was a foreign concept in the market that we have stuck with, leading it to slowly grow,” Deogratius says.
He says this year’s one-day festival has already shaped a shadow for 2022 edition. The designers who displayed their creative works to the audience included upcoming and seasoned designers.
Guia Martinotti, whose design brand name is ‘Noor Design,’ opened the event and showcased 16 looks that screamed elegance, followed by other designers whose displayed looks ranged 14 to 16.
“I have been in the fashion industry for about 25 years, but this was my first time to take part in a fashion festival. I had made all clothes, decorations and accessories worn by models with the exception of their shoes. With the help of local vendors and tailors, we made everything from scratch; from bags, earring and every piece of work put on them,” Guia explains.
Waiz Shekilando, whose brand name is ‘WaiZanzibar,’ closed the show, leaving the audience eager to explore his other unseen designs and collection.
“This is my second time to participate in the fashion festival and it keeps unraveling a creative yet potential part of my artistic expression. For instance, in this year’s event, I decided to make every design from the scratch after the theme was announced,” Waiz reveals.
For her part, Quennice Kileo, an upcoming designer and a first-timer at the festival, used her participation in the event as an introduction of her creative works.
“Prior to taking part in this event, I saw an opportunity of attracting people with a keen interest in fashion. It was truly an honor to work alongside other phenomenal designers in the country and share this platform with them, I have been inspired to work harder than ever,” she excitedly said.